Sunday, January 18, 2015

Embracing the Imperfections

I've been feeling God call out my tendency for perfection. The problem is...I'm not perfect...and I never will be. We're always striving, right? But should we? If my goal is to glorify God with my life by loving Him and loving others, why strive for something I know I cannot attain? 

Stay with me here. I'm not saying, "throw in the towel on becoming better in life" by any means. But it's about Jesus, not doing the right things, right? It's so hard to remember that after I look in the mirror, get snappy with my girls, eat too much of the "wrong" food, feel jealous, hold onto hurt, obsess over something minor, and feel insecure. My instinct is to improve. I feel guilty or I say to myself that I am going to "do better" like somehow I need to strive for that perfection. 

Grace. It's what Jesus taught and it's what most Christians teach (Lord willing). There's age old songs that say, "come as you are" and we reach out to people who aren't following Jesus. But in a lot of circles, once you start becoming a follower of Jesus, there's a pressure to live up to perfection or being blameless. Saved by grace and then feeling like works keep you there. We end up focusing on rules to keep us in line. I struggle with trying to live up to this. I have for years. My struggle has gone from feeling like I was almost perfect in many areas (and extreme anxiety in areas I fell short in) to now feeling so imperfect. One caused pride and the other causes fear. Both focus on myself and steer me away from loving God and others. But thankfully God has led people into my life over the last 7 years, to start revealing to me that my quest for perfection is not what God calls me to. The quest is to know Jesus and to love others. Period. 

My abs are far from a six pack. I'd like to have a little more definition. I don't eat perfectly. I struggle with vanity. My house is a mess most of the time these days. Sometimes I feel inadequate that I don't plan to homeschool my girls anymore while most moms around me do. I obsessed over something stupid (that I thought wasn't done perfectly) and nagged my husband in the car yesterday till he showed annoyance. I can be judgmental of others' decisions that don't affect me at all because I have a set of rules in my head that should be followed. I am clearly a mess. 

Thankfully, I am learning to feel the nudges of the Holy Spirit to recognize these things. That maybe it's not the issue I obsessed over that's the real problem. Maybe the problem is striving for perfection that we can't live up to, like my attitude that was not loving my husband, but trying to live up to a standard while almost pounding it into my husband (thankfully my husband displays Jesus' love to me a lot and always forgives/forgets my sins).  My attitude with God and with others is what matters; learning how to truly love. God is telling me that my standard for perfection interferes with my love for others, and Him.  

Am I the only one who struggles with this ideal of perfection? I am working on listening to what God is saying in my life. How to not snap or not be negative without making it about following a new rule. Finding practices or spiritual formations that let the Holy Spirit transform me and bring me closer to Christ. Like physically opening my hands up during prayer, or starting the day with the Lord's prayer, memorizing scripture, seeking close relationships with others who are disciples of Jesus, pausing before I speak, and speaking blessings over my daughters and others. But also, learning to embrace my imperfections and let God transform me through them. A guest pastor spoke at our church today and he said that at his church something they say is "no perfect people allowed." How awesome. Well I am here to say that I am far from perfect and I am learning to be ok with that because it's not about me. Thank you Jesus for whispering to me how much you love me and letting me know that I am still lovable, including my imperfections. 

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